As students head back to school each year, they face the risk of gun violence and it has become harder for parents and students to feel safe. Students are being forced to normalize learning in constant fear of gunfire ringing out in – and outside of – their classrooms. On Tuesday, one student was shot and killed, one critically injured, and another injured after a shooting at St. Helena High School in Greensburg, Louisiana around as school was being dismissed. A suspect was taken into custody, and the authorities released that the suspect is a 14-year-old student.
“My generation is being forced to normalize living and learning in constant fear of gunfire ringing out in our schools and in our communities, but nothing about this is normal. We deserve to go to class without having to worry about whether or not we’re going to make it home,” said Kylie Andreason, a high school junior in Louisiana and volunteer with Students Demand Action. “Guns are the number one killer of kids, teens, and college-aged people here in America. Yet, Louisiana politicians have left us to run, hide, or fight for our lives instead of doing their jobs – which is to protect us. They need to be doing everything in their power to pass laws that help keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them – especially teens.”
Roughly three-fourths of school shooters under the age of 18 got the gun from their home or the home of a friend or family member. Reducing easy access to guns for those who should not have them is an important part of preventing school shootings, and research shows secure storage practices play a vital role in reducing the risk of gun violence. Secure storage notification policies allow schools to send home information to our parents about how and why guns should be securely stored and help keep kids safe both in and out of the classroom.
Despite proven research-based solutions to decrease gun violence, Louisiana lawmakers instead focused the 2023 legislative session on introducing permitless carry, even as polling from 2021 showed that 79 percent of Louisiana voters support requiring a permit to carry a loaded and concealed handgun in public. Permitless is also strongly opposed by law enforcement officials in Louisiana because it greatly hinders their ability to protect citizens. When the bill was proposed two years ago, law enforcement gathered in opposition to permitless carry and East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III argued that “this is an absolutely terrible bill, not only for the men and women who wear this badge and serve the public, but it’s a terrible bill for the public as well. This poses an exponential threat to every law enforcement officer in this state.”
Louisiana has the 2nd-highest rate of gun deaths in the US. In an average year, 1,125 people die and 2,936 are wounded by guns in Louisiana. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Louisiana. In Louisiana, an average of 138 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 18% of these deaths are suicides and 76% are homicides. More information about gun violence in Louisiana is available here.
If you would like to speak to Louisiana Student Demand Action or Moms Demand Action volunteers who are greatly involved in this fight, please don’t hesitate to reach out.